Information on the application of new legislation that restricts the right of citizens of the Republic of Belarus to peaceful protest
The amendments to the Law «On Mass Events» came into force on 26 January 2019, according to which, in addition to the declarative (permissive) principle of holding mass events, a notification principle appeared. According to the changes, it is possible to hold a mass event (with the exception of street processions and demonstrations) in the places provided for this (for example, in Minsk there are 6 specially designated places; all of those places are outside the centre) by notifying the local executive body 10 days in advance.
At the same time, on 24 January 2019, the Council of Ministers adopted Decree No. 49. This Decree regulates the cost of the services of internal affairs bodies for the protection of public order during all (with both the declarative and notification procedures) mass events in the following sizes:
3 base units (76,5 BYN = 33 Euro) – for an event with up to 10 participants;
25 base units (637,5 BYN = 280 Euro) – for an event with 11-100 participants;
150 base units (3825 BYN = 1670 Euro) – for an event with 101-1000 participants;
250 base units (6375 BYN = 2800 Euro) – for an event with more than1000 participants;
When conducting events in places not provided for by decisions of local executive committees, this amount increases by 1.5 times.
After the entry into force of Decision of the Council of Ministers No. 49, no citizen of the Republic of Belarus can exercise their constitutional right to peaceful protest without paying for the «services» of the police.
Extension of the Resolution’s power on the Belarusian citizens and organizations that organize non-profit public events, is a violation of the Constitution, Article 35 of which guarantees us the right to freedom of assembly, meetings, street processions, demonstrations and pickets that do not violate the rule of law and the rights of other citizens of the Republic of Belarus. The action of the Decree regarding the organizers of mass events of a non-commercial nature limits the constitutional right of citizens to peaceful assembly.
According to articles 24 of the Constitution, the state guarantees the protection of the life of citizens from any illegal encroachment. In turn, citizens of the Republic of Belarus participate in the financing of state expenses by paying state taxes, duties and other payments. The state budget is formed from taxes and duties of citizens, from which the police are financed.
Also, according to article 8 of the Constitution, the Republic of Belarus recognizes the priority of generally recognized principles of international law and ensures compliance with legislation.
Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by the Republic of Belarus, recognizes the right to peaceful assembly. The use of this right is not subject to any restrictions, except those that are imposed in accordance with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of the state or public security, public order, protecting public health and morality, or protecting the rights and freedoms of others.
Prepared by Volha Kavalkova, BCD co-chair